We plan on renting a car twice during our trip. First from Bath to drive through the cotswolds and next from York to Whitby. I notice that the rental places all close around 6pm. Do they allow you to drop the car off after hours? Is there an advantage to renting the car ahead of time via internet? What is the best company to go through? Any other advice since I know I have more questions but can't remember them right now. Thanks
Can't answer your question, however there is a bus between York and Whitby. It has been voted the most scenic bus route in Britain. Takes 2 hours.
Article with video: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-44100363/leeds-to-whitby-britain-s-most-scenic-bus-route
Another article: https://news.sky.com/story/coastliner-840-service-between-malton-and-whitby-is-britains-most-scenic-bus-route-11388430
Last departure is 17:45 out of Whitby, arrive York 20:07.
Regarding after-hours drop-off, you might want to be there, too, when they're looking at the car for any damage, so that if there's some question, you'd be there to make sure that no misunderstanding exists . . . I suspect whomever you use wouldn't allow for after-hours drop-offs for the same reason.
We've rented a car in Scotland, but on several trips in England, we've stuck to the trains and buses (so far). If you did a search on the Internet, that should bring up several rental company options, probably both international firms and a local operator or two. See who has the best prices for what type of car you want. Determine whether you want a manual gearbox/transmission or an automatic. Remember that you'll be driving on the left side of the road. Smaller is generally better (and cheaper), but ensure there's still room for all your passengers, and for your luggage in the boot/trunk.
Some companies might offer more convenient pick-up/drop-off hours for you. E-mail them to see if they can offer any options for dropping off, before deciding who's going to get your business.
Many car rental lots have a night key drop. But always take plenty of pictures of any car being dropped off that way.
A usually rent from AutoEurope.com or Hertz direct--depending on who's got the lowest price. You always need to make reservations online prior to getting into your trip. Joining any rental company's frequent renter program will usually get you a better daily/weekily rental price.
Many (most) car rental agencies not located at airports are closed on weekends and evenings. If you want to pick up or drop off a car, if you choose a location at an airport (even smaller, regional airports), you will find more options.
I like renting through gemut.com. Just tell them what you're looking for and they do the work to find you the best options (and price matches if you can find a better deal elsewhere). They're a US-based company that sets up the rental for you (typically via AutoEurope). I've always had great experiences with them.
We rented from Enterprise in Bath last September. Very good service, you can arrange a pick-up from your hotel if you call the day before. Check the hours carefully if you are dropping off on a Saturday or Sunday. Most places had earlier closing times than weekdays, sometimes at Noon and most seem to be closed on Sunday. Because it was a Saturday, we ended up altering our plans and dropped off at Gatwick. We had asked about after hours drop off and were told that we couldn't.